It’s every freelancer’s dream to get a random call from a well-known client. Usually, a photographer like Andrew Maguire has to be proactive in getting his work in front of name brand companies. Sometimes, though, your phone rings out of nowhere, and, next thing you know, you’re up in the Colorado mountains doing a two-day shoot for New Belgium Brewing Company.
This was a call out of the blue from the in-house creative team at New Belgium, which was great! I would assume they were drawn to my work because of the visual look and feel as well as the authenticity of the subjects that are featured. Much of my work captures the outdoor spirit, which was a huge part of this campaign.
And what better way to cap a day outdoors than with a cold, crisp Fat Tire? New Belgium asked Andrew to imbue his imagery with a summery vibe. Here’s the rub: the shoot took place in March.
With this project, Fat Tire wanted to feature Colorado, but also capture “summer looks.” That becomes a bit more difficult to do in March, especially at the tail end of winter (this was also a record-setting snow year).
We landed on shooting between the river towns of Salida and Buena Vista, which sit at the base of the Sawatch Mountain range and enjoy views of some of the tallest peaks in the state of Colorado.
These towns tend to stay fairly snow-free through the winter months, but the 14,000-foot Collegiate Peaks in the background receive heavy amounts of snow. We had a few setups where we received a few short spurts of snowfall, which is not uncommon any time of the year in Colorado.
The Breckenridge, Colorado-based photographer wasn’t fazed by any of the setbacks, mostly because he’s come to expect them on shoots of this ilk. Andrew understands that the best photographers — or, more pointedly, the ones most appealing to clients — welcome adversity.
You always aim to capitalize on the “Golden Hours” window at sunrise and sunset, but clients don’t pay you to just shoot during those prime light windows. Being able to work around flat or harsh light has really helped me hone my ability to be flexible and roll with whatever Mother Nature throws my way. Inclement weather always seems to land on production days. I’ve just come to embrace whatever happens. Some of my favorite shots are from nasty storm days.
Although this shoot ultimately centered around a product, New Belgium wanted to focus on the lifestyle aspect surrounding the beer. By and large, people know what Fat Tire is, so the brewing company’s goal was to market it to a specific demographic, which makes proper casting perhaps the most important element of the project. Andrew’s work history gives him a unique perspective on how this process relates to the timelessness of a campaign.
Nailing the right cast really plays a large role in telling a successful story. I started off my career in a very traditional advertising market where it was all about casting with talent agencies. We rarely ever opted for “real people/street casting.” With some of my earlier career shoots, I continued exploring this route for sourcing talent. Looking back, the imagery just does not stand the test of time — and no longer lives in my portfolio. I quickly realized that you want to feature subjects that “live the life,” as we say.
As Andrew transitioned from advertising to photography, he learned first-hand the benefits of working with people who “live the life,” an approach that New Belgium was all too happy to utilize.
Within the past six years I’ve been fortunate to work with pro athletes and individuals who practice what they preach. It truly gives the imagery a longer shelf life because you are capturing real moments as opposed to fabricated scenarios. I much prefer the “wind em’ up and let ’em go” mentality to following direction from a script.
That said, the initial talks with Fat Tire revolved around finding real outdoor enthusiasts and athletes that we could send out for a mountain bike ride or trail run and then capture them as they head back to the trailhead or car to cool down with a few ice cold Fat Tires.
Andrew’s advertising background has aided him twofold with name-brand work. For one, his experience on corporate shoot sets helped him develop the technical skills needed to be successful as a full-time photographer. For another, his ability to draw parallels between placing a product and doing the same with talent has allowed him to consistently create authentic imagery.
I began my career working in a market that was primarily based around the contract furniture industry. I spent about five years working as either a second shooter or photo assistant, which really allowed me to hone my skills with lighting and the composition of product and details. While my A.D.D. and life passion moved me away from that field of work, I took away the skills learned through those formative years working in that industry.
This being a modern-day rebrand, one of Andrew’s points of guidance was a hashtag: #thenbeer. As in, let’s have a fun, active day and then grab a drink, unwind, and reflect.
That was all established by the Fat Tire team. The whole idea behind the relaunch and 2019 brand direction of Fat Tire was to be the “after adventure” beer of choice beverage (or “après” for the ski folks). The campaign wasn’t about capturing the summit of a 14er [peak of more than 14,000 feet] or padding down a rowdy class five stretch of river but about the camaraderie and celebration after the adventure.
I think this image [above] best captures the spirit of #thenbeer. Raw, unscripted emotion. I think the image resonates with any outdoor enthusiast or mountain athlete who finishes a big trek or adventure — soak it all in and celebrate!
The work has been well-received by both the outdoor community and New Belgium itself, which has used Andrew’s images online and on actual billboards around the country. Andrew still hears from friends whenever they see one of his images in person, an especially gratifying experience for someone with strong ties to the ad world.
In an age where ‘print is dead’ and a majority of created content lives across social platforms, being able to drive by a billboard with my images on it is a very fulfilling experience as a creative in 2019.
The billboards have been up in/around the greater Denver area in NYC around Times Square and Brooklyn. I’ve received countless phone calls and texts from friends and colleagues sharing that they have spotted the work out in the wild. That doesn’t get old!
And to think, all of this started with a phone call “out of the blue.” Andrew vividly recalls how his fondness for New Belgium first germinated, way back when he was still working in a field that just didn’t do it for him. As fate would have it, not only did Andrew move to an industry in which he could manifest his passions, he eventually did so with a company he’s long admired.
I just feel super lucky to have had the opportunity to work with a brand like New Belgium, who I’ve followed and respected for years. I started my career working around an industry that was quite lucrative but just didn’t tick the passion box for me. I remember sitting on the porch in my small, second-story studio thumbing through a copy of Outside Magazine and reading about the “Best Places to Work” — New Belgium was always on that list.
It’s an amazing brand — one that really cares not only about making amazing beer, but about the environment and giving back to the outdoor community and Mother Nature.
Creative Direction: New Belgium Team
First Assistant: Beau Blackburn
Casting: Run West Productions
See more of Andrew’s work at andrew-maguire.com.
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